By Michael Hardy
NORILSK, RUSSIA, IS an industrial city of 175,000 people located 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, a place so far north that it is completely dark for two months every winter. Founded as a Soviet prison labor camp, an estimated 650,000 prisoners were sent here by Stalin between 1935 and 1956; 250,000 are believed to have died from starvation or overwork.
It’s a city abounding in superlatives: Norilsk is Russia’s northernmost, coldest, and most polluted city. Why would anyone choose to live in this former gulag? Because below the ground are vast deposits of some of the world’s most valuable minerals, including palladium, which is used in cellphones and sells for about $970 an ounce.
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By Kat Barandy
this fall, the canadian photography institute of the national gallery of canada and the art gallery of ontario will co-present ‘anthropocene.’ these two new contemporary art exhibitions tell the story of the human impact on the earth and feature the work of photographer edward burtynsky.
in the year 2000, nobel-prize winning chemist paul jozef crutzen first popularized the term ‘anthropocene’ to describe a proposed new geologic era characterized by the evident ‘human signature’ on the planet. since then, the controversial idea has sparked a vigorous and passionate debate among an international group of scientists regarding the actual geologic credibility of the term. critics argue that while the proposition is eye catching, one cannot define a new geologic era without specifying its precise boundaries in the earth’s rock strata. this controversy surrounding the formal termination of the holocene and the beginning of this new ‘human epoch’ sparked photographer edward burtynsky’s ‘anthropocene project.’
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